Above: Jayne Taylor using the Eagle Press in the Ingram Street workshop (c.1987).
Graphic Impact: Our Lives in Print, was a two year project funded by the William Grant Foundation, which began in April 2018. The key aims of the project were to learn about the early days of the organisation by interviewing founding members and staff, to highlight the role of women who contributed to the growth of the organisation in a variety of ways, and to enable people to engage with our collections in a new way, bringing together our members and community groups to explore printmaking and our collection.
Using the Archive through exhibitions, events and engagement work, a gap in the information we held became apparent - our records included little material recording the early days of GPS (c. 1972-1989). Moreover, of the eight members who founded the organisation in 1972, 50% were women: Beth Fisher, Sheena McGregor, Eileen Ormiston and Jacki Parry. We now know their contributions included physically labouring to kit out the workshop, applying for funding, running the workshop for members, providing education classes and editioning prints. The project was being managed and delivered by Sarah Stewart, Education Officer and Kerry Patterson, Archive Curator.
Project Launch Event
A Project Launch event in June 2018 raised awareness of the project and invited people to get involved with Phase 1 of the project - oral history and information gathering. A special call out for people with knowledge of GPS’s early years specifically (c. 1972-1989) was made, inviting people to come forward to take part in oral history interviews, provide photographs, information & connections to existing knowledge. The day was well attended and, importantly people got in touch who couldn’t make it along but had valuable information, photographs and stories about this period. The workshop and Archive room were open and members demonstrated printing techniques to visitors on the day.
Books borrowed from the GSA Library
Wikipedia has a gender problem: the encyclopedia and its content is weighted toward men. In a 2011 survey, the Foundation found that only around 9% of contributors identified as female, and less than 1% as trans. This imbalance in demographic leads to a content gap - as of 1 January 2018, just 17.37% of biographies on English Wikipedia were about women. We decided to hold our Editathon event to help address this imbalance and new biographies of significant female printmakers whose work is included in our collection was added , this included improving existing biographies of women.
Sara Thomas, Wikimedian in residence at SLIC (Scottish Library & Information Council), provided training to attendees on creating and updating records on Wikipedia. Support also came from the Glasgow School of Art Library (with thanks to Bobbie Winter-Burke) who let us borrow books and catalogues to provide references. The event was open to members and during the afternoon, Wikipedia pages were created for Jacki Parry and Moyna Flannigan, with the page for Elspeth Lamb improved and a page for Beth Fisher created after the event.
Archive Project Internships
Intern Lucy Walkingshaw scanning photographs
Three Project Archive internships ran throughout the project which aimed to provide high quality working experiences in a professional workplace, and practical hands on archive experience working with an oral history project. Two posts were supported by a new partnership with Glasgow University Careers Department. Helen Emily Davy, Marisol Erdman & Lucy Walkingshaw provided invaluable support in transcribing oral history interviews, documenting and collating new information.
"it was great to gain experience producing transcripts as this is the most in depth experience I have had to date- particularly great to be working with such interesting material”
Quote from Marisol Erdman
To date, 256 records on the collections database have been created or enriched through the project. Donations received throughout the project included 115 photographs from Sue Mackechnie, 60 items from Roger Farnham (former Company Secretary and member) on The Loveliest Night of the Year events, three prints from Joe Urie, three prints from Elspeth Lamb and three items from Ruth Johnstone on The Loveliest Night of the Year.
Oral history Interviews
Fifteen people have been interviewed, including founding members, board members and early staff members. These have been recorded and fully transcribed, with six older interviews also transcribed by volunteers. Common themes started to appear from these interviews and have informed the digital resource that is currently being produced. The launch of the website will be announced soon.
Moving a printing press out of St Vincent Crescent during the move of premises to Ingram Street and St Vincent
Crescent, Oct 2018. Taken by Sarah Stewart on a visit with Kerry Patterson to interview Sheena MacGregor,
GPS members selecting prints from the Archive
Print Panel was the community engagement element of the Graphic Impact project which brought together members from the local community and GPS members to learn about, explore, select and respond to prints in the Archive.
When asked why she wanted to get involved in the project, Gillian Grant from Platform replied
“To get access to the Archive, I am really interested in print and I was interested to see what was actually in the Archive ‘and when Kerry told me there were 4000 images, my first thought was how am I going to pick?”
Commenting on the viewing of the Archive prints,Emma Booth, GPS Member stated
“It was lovely to be in a room just with the prints, because you get a different feel for them when you are in the room with them rather than looking at them on a screen.
And although I think when I chose the print I did, I came to that choice quite quickly, I think seeing the other ones help me confirm that, that was definitely the right one I went with”
Nine members of the GalGael community in Govan, ten from the Platform arts centre in Easterhouse and seven GPS members participated in Print Panel through a series of flexible workshops, Show and Tell events, artist-led print activities and specialised training in fine art printmaking skills. With a common goal of selecting and showcasing works made by women from the Archive. Each participant selected one work and made a new work in response to their chosen print.
Fiona Wilson, GPS Member sharing some of her prints with the group from Platform
GPS Member,Drew Mackie and Dawn McTaggart from GalGael during a taster session in the Learning Zone
Four GPS members: Maia Ronan, Fiona Wilson, Drew Mackie and Elke Finkenauer took part in Show and Tell sessions and practical printing sessions. Drew and Elke worked with GalGael exploring embossing and drypoint while Helen and Maia worked with Platform exploring monoprint and screenprint.
When asked about working with the participants in Print Panel Fiona Wilson replied:
"They were amazingly enthusiastic. There were a few people who were confused, and didn’t know what they were doing and thought “what I’m doing is rubbish" but by the end of it we turned that around and they actually ended up producing one of the most interesting and accomplished pieces. So it was really something, to see somebody who, was so unsure of what they were doing go away with something that looked so amazing.”
When asked how she found the sessions meeting GPS members and trying out some of the techniques, Gillian Richardson from GalGael replied:
“I absolutely loved it, it was something I’d never done. When you are seeing different pictures, done in different techniques, and trying to get your head around how they were done, until you see, either videos, it’s explained to you or you are physically doing it yourself, you realise, oh that’s how it’s been done... and I can look at things and say that’s been screenprinted… oh thats been done in such and such a way.”
Each person also spent 2 days in the professional workshop producing a small edition of screenprints or etchings which were part of the exhibition in March 2020.
Under the instruction of Ian McNicol, Rosalind Lawless and Fiona Wilson. the group learned how to use the facilities, photo exposure screenprinting techniques and soft ground etching with aquatint.
Print Panel members from GalGael and Platform in the workshop
Each of the seven members who took part also rose to the challenge over and above our expectations and each produced a fascinating response to their chosen Archive works.
Work was produced using different printing techniques including screenprint, etching, mezzotint, photopolymer and drypoint. Some members learned a new technique, some revisited a process they had not used for some time or challenged themselves developing their usual working practice. Many spoke about the importance that viewing the Archive prints had been in the production and development of the new works. The project allowed them to channel new ideas, explore techniques and develop their practice in interesting ways with surprising results.
Fiona Wilson, GPS Member, etching and mezzotint copper plate. Emma Booth, GPS Member, stretching her prints
When asked why she wanted to take part in the project GPS Member Emma Booth replied:
"When Sarah first told me about it, I thought it was really interesting because it was working in response to another print and I was really interested in being able to look at the Archive and see the different prints that were there to start with, because there is just so much choice. And then I was quite excited to see how that would tie in with my own work and how it would feed into different ideas.
It helped me develop and refresh my skills, because I do love etching but I fell away from it for a while and usually when I do etching it tends to go into installation or something like that. So to have the boundary of, it’s going to be framed and it’s going to be a print, was a challenge to get my brain around. And it was also the first time I did photo polymer on my own.”
Graphic Impact: Our Lives in Print Exhibition
The exhibition ran throughout the T103 foyer gallery and our ground floor gallery. It showcased 25 original prints selected from the archive collection and 26 new works by the Print Panel. All of the archive prints shown were made by women artists and ranged in date from the 1970s to the 2010s. Glasgow Print Studio’s Archive collection currently represents the work of 435 artists, of whom 34% are women. Print Panel consisted of both men and women.
The opening night was well attended by past and present members, Print Panel participants and their families and print sales were made on the night. Unfortunately, due to the Covid 19 pandemic the exhibition was suspended as we went into Lockdown and the galleries were closed.
On reopening the show was extended throughout August with Government Social distancing guidelines in place and we used social media platforms to highlight the wonderful works that were produced. Our plans to tour the exhibition to Platform in 2022 are ongoing.
If you were unable to see the show you can view the works below :
Print Panel Artworks and Archive Selection: You can download the interpretation booklet here, which includes images of all the works chosen by the Print Panel with their print made in response, plus some background information on their choices.
Archive Booklet: You can download the archive booklet here, which contains information about all the prints from the archive collection, taken from our collections database.
Artists whose work was included in the exhibition at the opening night: Founder members Eileen Ormiston and Jacki Parry, Founder Sheena McGregor with her daughter Josi (as featured in her print), Visitors viewing the works in the foyer, including Elise V Allan
Exhibition installed in Print Studio ground floor gallery and Trongate 103 foyer space
Visitors and Print Panel members at the opening night
“Graphic Impact was an ambitious project which enabled us to develop links and widen our audiences, exploring new working practices and structures of social engagement. It provided a platform to our members creative development and a positive space for the local community to engage and learn about Scottish fine art printmaking, while exploring our rich Archive resource. The sense of pride and achievement from all participants cannot be underestimated and the individual learning curves undertaken so passionately by the Print Panel is one of the key drivers and most rewarding outcomes for me personally”
The legacy of the project will continue through the ongoing use of the Archive web resource which,when launched will provide a vital link between the past and present,ensuring vital oral histories are available for present day audiences.I am hopeful we will be able to bring this up to date as we work towards planning our 50thanniversary celebrations. ”
Throughout 2020/1, we have continued to develop the new website which will present the important oral history information gathered throughout the project. The new site will be launched on Thursday 9th September 2021. Please visit www.graphic-impact.co.uk